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Asked — Edited
Resolved Resolved by DJ Sures!

Best Way To Attach Onboard Computer To EZB V4

All the upgrades and changes this past year or so to EZ Robot and Synthiam's ARC software (Used to be EZ Builder) has left me behind a lot. Other life demands has kept me from experimenting with my robot and learning all the new ways to use ARC. Granted the EZB hasn't changed but ARC is a whole new animal. 

Anyway, from the start of my adventures with this robot platform back in the EZB V3 days I've always wanted to mount an onboard computer on my robot. A few things has kept me from doing this:

*Along with the above mentioned events the mini computers didn't seem quite mature enough to jump into it. 
*I really wanted voice recognition. With the computer being on the robot, the noises the robot make really mess up the VR. (I'm using a Bluetooth headset now so that shouldn't be an issue anymore).
*I really haven't been able to wrap my head around the best way to hook up all 4 EZB's I have in my robot to one onboard PC if mounted inside my robot. Sections of my robot twist, bob and bend and I want to keep the cables going through these joints to a minimum. As much as I would like a direct connection between the EZB and the onboard PC I think I'd have to have both options, Wifi connected and direct connection. 
*I really can't find information on this forum on how to attach a EZB V4 directly to a PC. Maybe I totally missed it. I do see discussions on connecting through USB but where to attach to the EZB? How to configure the PC and ARC? 

To this point I've been discussing my personal full sized B9 Robot from the TV show Lost In Space. I still want to mount a PC onboard it but I'm currently building another one for a fan up in NH, USA. I'm at the point of deciding if I want to have the PC mounted in the robot with direct connection or outside and connect with Wifi. This Robot will only have two EZB's. These EZB's are already here for me to use and I'd like to use them instead of converting an Arduino. I guess I could do that but I'll be needing ADC ports and Digital ports. I have zero experience with Arduino or this conversion process. 

I'm really leaning towards using an Up Board as the onboard PC but would maybe need Wifi connectivity to reach remote EZB's mounted in hard to reach areas of the robot. 

I guess I'm asking for suggestions on:
*Links on this forum where I can find attaching a PC directly to the EZB or other boards so I don't have to ask too many questions. 
*If I should sideline these EZB's and use something else I can flash and convert that would work better for my application?
*How easy and clear it it to use a remote client to log into the onboard computer to manage it from outside the robot? What is the best software to use now-a-days for this? I guess this means I'd need two PC's? the Up Board mounted on the robot and the one I'm using to log into it to work with ARC and maintain. 
*How the heck do I connect a PC directly to an EZB or another board if I decide to use something else?
*Can I have one EZB attached directly to the PC and one EZB connected to it through Wifi at the same time and controlled by the same ARC project?

Thanks for reading this long request and thanks for the help in advance. Any suggestions are welcomed.


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PRO
Canada
#15  
If the only reason you want to connect via usb is dodgy wifi on your EZB you may just want to use an ESP32.  These things are real cheap and I had a lot of success with them. You can purchase them for about $10 to $15 online or if you a patient you can get them from China for around $3. You can also pair with an Ada fruit PCA9685 via I2C to give you lots more ports.  Hopefully someone will add USB support with ARC one day as well:)
PRO
Synthiam
#16   — Edited
Nink the esp32cam doesn’t have usb.

and if you want to use the esp32, just put the arduino firmware on it. No one has to do anything special for you to use it with usb. Not sure why anyone would want to use an esp32 with usb since it has wifi. Just use a pro micro or nano instead
PRO
Australia
#18  
This EZB is installed in my Pepper robot and needs to be hard wired to the Surface Go 2 via USB port.
I have five EZBs for various robots, but this one is the only EZB that isn't v4/2. I don't know how that happened - second hand I suppose.
I ordered the upgrade on the EZ Robot website. So I'll just have to wait before progressing any further with this project.
PRO
Canada
#19  
@afscon makes a lot of sense to standardize on the one piece of hardware across all robots so I get using the genuine EZB. 

@DJ yeah I know the ESP32 is just being used as an Arduino. I just like the option of being able to connect via usb for rock solid comms from an onboard computer or via wifi from a Remote Desktop to talk direct to an individual component.  When the central computer breaks on the autonomous robot waiter you are still be able to drive it manually back to kitchen.
PRO
Synthiam
#20  
Nink - so you're asking for USB and WiFi at the same time?
PRO
Canada
#21  
@afcorson If the WiFi seems dodgy on your EZ-B you can always try switching channels in the WiFi web-server (there's 1-11) usually around channel 11 is less used by consumer electronics. You could also try a low-cost USB dongle with a big external antenna.

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WiFi is sometimes not great on laptops because of their antenna design, they work efficiently enough with high power routers but less well with AP connections because its a small antenna to small antenna wireless connection.
PRO
Synthiam
#22  
@Jeremie - his ezb is the first gen with bluegiga. It's most likely not poor wifi but throughput limitations that's being misdiagnosed as poor wifi. The bluegiga had significant performance issues. Upgrading to the /2 will give him proper performance. That's why out of all his ezb's, he's only experiencing issues with the old one which has bluegiga
PRO
Australia
#23  
After waiting over 4 weeks to receive my EZB v4.x/2 upgrade from EZRobot, the package that arrived today contained the bottom half of the microcontroller and not the EZB board top. So I guess I have to wait another 4 weeks to achieve my direct USB connection to Pepper's EZB.
#24  
Sorry for your issue. Someone in China probably got things mixed up. Ugh!
PRO
Synthiam
#25  
Did you write to ezrobot? I’m sure they’d take care of you. That’s too bad though - I feel your pain when stuff like that happens
PRO
Australia
#26  
Yes. Waiting for a response from them.
PRO
Australia
#27  
Just tried again to connect my new EZB v4.x/2 to my laptop via USB. Whilst I now get the Advanced Tab appearing, the content looks very different to that shown in the instructions - see screen shot. The upshot is, I can't change the communication type and baud rate. How do I do it in this screen?

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PRO
Synthiam
#28   — Edited
I think you need the latest firmware. Not sure what version they ship with but the firmware can be updated. It’s included with the ARC installation. It is a separate program but it’s installed with arc
PRO
Australia
#29  
OK. I ran the EZB Firmware update V4 and got the correct menu for Advanced Network Settings. Made the required changes and successfully connected to the EZB via COM17. So it all looks good. One problem to solve is when I transfer the program to Pepper's Surface Go, the COMS port to connect to the EZB will not be COM17. As I have the runtime version of ARC installed on this Surface Go, it might not let me change the COMS port and save it. Anyway I will keep plugging away. Thanks again.
#30   — Edited
You should be able to change the com port just fine. That setting is with the ezb and done through it's web interface. It has nothing to do with ARC. However there's a baud rate  setting in ARC connection skill you have to set to match that of the ezb. I'm sure you will be able to set that. It would make no sense to me for Synthiam to lock that out on your version.
PRO
Australia
#31  
The EZB connection via USB and the Webcam work perfectly using a laptop. However, on Pepper's Surface Go, they do not work.
It's like the Surface Go doesn't recognize the USB hub I am using. No ports are listed at all. Even in Device Manager there are no ports.
Something else for me to figure out.
#32   — Edited
What happens if you bypass your usb hub and and just plug in one or two usb cables directly? If they show up maybe there is an issue with your hub being recognized. Update it's drivers and see what happens.

This happened to me with a couple the TTL to USB converters I'm using. They didn't show until I updated their drivers on the computer I was using them on. Maybe it's the converters your using that needs the drivers updated to/also.
PRO
Australia
#33  
I have made some progress on this. The reason my Surface Go was not recognizing the USB hub, is that the adjoining cable and also the 180 degree coupler did not work. The Surface Go recognizes the USB hub only when plugged in directly with no extension leads or coupler. I get a COM3 port available to connect to the EZB. But I do need to use a 180 degree coupler to get the cable going around the back of the Surface Go otherwise it sticks out of the side rather badly. One would think you'd be able to buy a 180 degree coupler that works properly. I'll keep looking or make one up.

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